The British-based private contractor Serco was awarded a contract worth up to $1.25 billion to process Obamacare applications, but its employees have practically nothing to do on the job, according to a report from St. Louis CBS affiliate KMOV.
An unidentified whistleblower told KMOV that workers hired to process Obamacare applications at Serco's Wentzville, Missouri processing center "have hardly any work to do."
"They're told to sit at their computers and hit the refresh button every 10 minutes- no more than every 10 minutes," the Serco employee said. "They're monitored to hopefully look for an application. Their goals are set to process two applications per month, and some people are not even able to do that."
Last year, Serco announced it had signed a potential five-year contract worth up to $1.25 billion with the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which is part of the Health and Human Services Department. The company has facilities in Missouri, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Arkansas where workers handle the paper applications relating to the Affordable Care Act. The 660 Serco workers in Wentzville are involved the processing of paper applications, verifying information, resolving conflicts of information, and calling consumers to obtain missing information or necessary documentations.
Back in October, when the technical problems with HealthCare.gov left the government heavily reliant on paper applications, Serco told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that it could hire as many as 8,000 to 10,000 workers to process the paperwork. According to CMS, the number of staff Serco has working on the Obamacare marketplace is reviewed on a regular basis and adjusted as needed.
In response to the KMOV report, CMS said, "Serco is committed to making sure federal funds are spent appropriately, and the number of Serco staff is reviewed on a regular basis."
Serco was just one of 47 organizations that won contracts from HHS or the Treasury Department last year to assist with Obamacare implementation, according to the nonpartisan watchdog group the Sunlight Foundation.